As busy season moves right along and we find ourselves in the final stretch, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain momentum and stay focused. You know how it is: you're working long hours, probably not taking as good care of yourself as you should, scrambling to get everything done, while maybe not being your most productive self. So what do you do to stay motivated? We put together a few tips to help you stay on track during the home stretch of busy season.
Write down your goals. It's good to keep a list of both long term and short term goals. If one of your goals requires multiple steps, break it down into its components. This can help make tasks less daunting and make it easier to accomplish what you set out to do. I find to-do lists can be great productivity tools. Crossing things off feels oh-so-good and makes that sense of accomplishment all the greater. So make a weekly list of goals for yourself to keep in mind. Then break that down further into daily to-do lists to plan everything out for maximum productivity.
Get a white board for your office. This is a great way to prominently display your agenda for the day or week and keep your head in the game. The white board helps enforce accountability because it is prominently displayed, and it serves as a constant reminder of what tasks you want to accomplish in a given day or week. You can also use the white board to organize tasks you have delegated to other people in the office, to help keep track of who's in charge of what, serving as a reminder to your entire team.
Once you've made your list of weekly goals, try to then focus your energy on only the day in front of you. Tackle your to-do list that you’ve outlined for the day to help you stay on track to reach your broader goals. It's important to have those outlined big picture goals for your week or month or season, but it's also important not to get overwhelmed by them. So work in smaller steps. Focus on the day in front of you, and you'll find your ability to get things done will be significantly easier and less overwhelming.
Break your day up into intervals. Productivity starts to dwindle if you force your brain to focus for too long a period of time. So break up your day into smaller chunks for peak productivity. Work on one aspect of a project for, say, 30 minutes to an hour, then get up from your desk; take a walk around the office; grab some water; chat with a coworker. Then come back to your task with fresh eyes. These small doses of focused work, really help stave off burnout and keep people motivated to meet their goals.
Eliminate distractions. There are plenty of things that can get in our way throughout the day. I think the biggest distraction these days is often our trusty old smartphones. Try keeping your phone out of sight (and therefore out of mind) for solid chunks of the day. Designate a specific time when you allow yourself to check your email or texts. For the particularly phone-dependent, this can act as a reward system. Allot yourself one full hour to dedicate to one of your outlined tasks, then allot yourself 5 minutes to check in with your email or read the news. Having these designated mini breaks with "allowed distractions" can really curb the inclination to give in to distraction throughout the day.
Offer praise and rewards as motivation. This one can be a great tool for bosses to utilize to encourage motivation, but really I think it can apply to anyone within a firm. If you have an employee or a coworker who's done something well, praise them! Showing someone you appreciate them can go a long way to encourage a better working dynamic and more dedicated coworkers and employees. Send an email to the whole firm, calling out an employee for their accomplishment. Do you have team meetings? Make an announcement there. Rewards can also serve as great motivators during busy and stressful times. Try organizing a mini camaraderie event to help boost morale. Celebrate a minor holiday with food, games and prizes (St. Patty's Day, for example). Keeping moods elevated can be majorly rewarding and serve as an excellent motivator.